US Army

No Purple Hearts For Bee Stings

No Purple Hearts For Bee Stings
(The following article appeared in March-April 2005, issue of "The Golden Acorn" which is the newsletter of the 87th Infantry Division.)
During the Battle of the Bulge we Dog Faces were constantly cold almost frozen, (our feet would get frozen, frost bitten or go black with trench foot), wet and hungry.  K-rations hardly satisfied our hunger and these were downed with remarkable speed.  Sometimes when several K-rations were provided I'd loose one or two of them in a fire fight and this only made matters worse.
Along with rations we always (almost always) received a carton of cigarettes once per week and these were used as much to allay nervous apprehension as they were used to satisfy hunger.
I also remember how the condoms we were issued were put to good use keeping matches and cigarettes dry.  They were also used to keep the muzzle of our weapon from filling with snow and ice or mud when there was a thaw.  A plugged barrel could cause an explosion of the breech which could seriously wound one's face.  They sure as hell couldn't be used for anything else.
We searched every beat up house, hovel, cellar and barn for anything edible.  I can remember finding Brussels sprouts, carrots and some potatoes in a root cellar.I found a can of fat (nondescript and could have come from anything) that most houses stored and used to fry the potatoes, carrots and sprouts in my mess kit over the square wax candle we were issued.  These candles helped heat up a fox hole if you set them in a niche dug into the side of the fox hole you happened to be in.  Disregarding standing orders not to eat or drink things we found that wasn't GI we gobbled up anything edible.  A good find was fruit and jelly preserves.
Along with what we could scrounge I always found bee hives rewarding.  There were many hives in the Ardennes and were used to pollinate the many orchards in the area.  At this time of the year (winter) it was easy to get at the honey combs as the bees were dormant.  I could quickly wrest a few combs from the hive and put them in my gas mask bag which had long since lost it's gas mask. (You quickly learned not to carry anything that wasn't absolutely necessary.)  The bag lining soon got very sticky.  I'd chew the combs, extract the honey and spit out the wax after a good chewing.
In or near Dickweiler, Luxembourg, we came to a farm house and I noticed this five foot high rectangular building with slats or louvered sides.  A small door permitted a stooped entrance.  This turned out to be the largest beehive I had ever seen.  It was to big that you could walk into it and when you did you were surrounded by honey combs.  Here was a large treasure trove of honey.  The bees were dormant and the combs easily removed.  I stuffed my gas mask carrier full and figured I was fixed for several days.
It didn't take long to tell the rest of the squad and soon they were going and coming from the hive.  Now dormant or not the bees decided to attack the marauders.  Soon there were yells from the looters.  The bees were really stinging now.  Those that got stung were moving away as fast as they could.
Mud was the only solace and there are no Purple Hearts for bee stings.
Source:Bulge Bugle, February 2006

Died June 1, 2010

Company "A"

347th Infantry Regiment

87th Infantry Division


Battle of the Bulge,